How much time to make a claim?

How much time is there to make an insurance claim?

Home insurance

Home insurance claims require you to give notice of your claim within one year after the loss or damage occurs except in the Province of Manitoba and the Yukon Territory. Manitoba and the Yukon allow two years.

Alberta introduced Bill 42 on June 12, 2010 which has a number of changes to the province's Insurance act. One of these changes in an extension of the limitation period for you, the policyholder to make a claim. It is proposed to increase it to two years. A complete copy of this bill can be found at this site.

Automobile insurance

Auto insurance claims have a standard limitation period of two years. Many claims are presented right away as there is minimal or no injury and the claim is straight-forward. Sometimes these potential claims never get brought to the insurer as the amounts are so small that they can be dealt with by the individuals.

The insurance claims that tend to be reported near the last minute are the injury claims. The longer the claim is held off then the harder it is for the insurer to defend in an injury lawsuit. Witnesses may no longer be available and memory can be muddied. So if you have been in an accident you will have to wait that full two years to know if you will get sued.

For most people they have a pretty good idea if they will be proceeding with a formal insurance claim or just paying damages out-of-pocket. If there is an injury involved then it is much more likely that the claim will be proceeding through insurance. If you are at fault then you might need the defense team of lawyers to help keep any award to a reasonable level. If you are not at fault and injured then you want reimbursement for the pain and suffering, lost wage and possible continuing care that may result.

Business insurance

Insurance claims for business insurance are done two different ways. There is a form of policy called "Claims-Made". This form has a requirement that any incident has to be reported even if it does not appear to be developing into a claim. If it does develop into a claim at a later date and you have not reported it to the insurer then you will not have coverage.

Business insurance policies for commercial general liability are normally done under an occurrence form. So a claim that occurs and may continue to go on for some time is going to be examined to see if it "triggers" the policy. If the situation is not excluded (professional liability, pollution, employee discrimination, etc.) then the policy will respond to the limit of the amount you have purchased.

Business people need to know what type of policy they have so that they can work with the insurance company in the best manner. Due to the complexity of business insurance it is not uncommon to see a large organization using a Risk Manager to deal with the insurance component. If your business is smaller then you are likely your own Risk Manager and you need to sit down with your broker and fully review what you have and what you do not.

The insurance companies want you to report all claims promptly. There are also requirements once you have started the claims process about completing a proof of loss and working with the insurers to resolve the claim. You need to quickly notify the insurance company if you receive any documents relating to your claim. When the process server comes to your door then there is a very narrow window of time in which to respond in your defense.

Insurance companies use their own company adjusters/examiners and independent adjusters. Whichever is assigned to your claim is now going to expect you to return phone calls and provide information if a reasonable time frame. Remember, that if you have any issues then talk to your agent or broker. This person cannot act on behalf of the insurance company but they are there to help you and can often assist in a communication difficulty.